If Only

There is an interesting phenomenon known as the “if only” syndrome. Some people think of “if only” as “Worry, Part 2.” Unfortunately, there is no pill we can take, and no inoculation to prevent it. However, once we understand what it is, we can take steps to avoid contracting it.

Now, do you know anyone with the “if only” syndrome? Maybe you have a touch of it yourself. People with this syndrome tend to pause in life and delay their goals in exchange for blame, disappointments, and regrets. They employ reasons (“It’s obvious that the deck is stacked against me”), and their complaints frequently start with the words “if only.” “If only I had more money, I have bills to pay.” “If only I had paid more attention in school.” “If only I was better looking, a different race, a different age,” “I can’t start my own business, I need a job with security and benefits,” and so on.

Many of these people have a great deal to offer the world and sadly, they go through life feeling anxious or depressed, dreaming of unlikely events that will transform them – magically – through little or no effort of their own. And because at their very core they know it’s all up to them, it’s hard for them to celebrate others who have stood in boldness and taken the leap towards success.

To avoid coming down with the “if only” syndrome, we need to take ownership of our lives, once and for all. Give up the pervasive, “someday” and take action. Give up faultfinding and learn to set achievable goals. Give up thinking about what you would do “if only” you could win the lottery. Begin thinking of the skills and talents you have, the network and relationships you have. Remember how powerful you really are and be confident that you are enough!

When we take ownership of our lives, we get the added benefit of owning our successes, not our regrets.